UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 12 March 2022

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What’s the article is about?

  • It is about the recent fire that broke out in Zaporizhia nuclear plant in Ukraine.
  • India’s plan is to install 28 additional nuclear reactors including 24 imported from France US and Russia.
  • The article also talks about the risks of nuclear power plants.

Data:

  • Installed nuclear capacity in India is 6.78GW.
  • In 1996, 17.5% of world electricity came from nuclear reactors. This has declined to around 10% by 2020 across the world.

Need of Nuclear power in India

  • Thorium and Uranium reserves: India has vast reserves of Thorium that can fuel India’s nuclear energy provided appropriate technology.
  • Energy poverty: Although India is the 3rd largest producer of electricity, about 20 % of the population of the country does not have access to electricity today
  • Energy demand: Nuclear energy is a critical part of India’s future energy security and helps in bridging the gap
  • Climate change: As carbon-neutral help in fulfilling our commitment to the Paris agreement and INDC.

Stages of Indian Nuclear power

     

Challenges of Nuclear power plants:

  • Climate change risks: Instances of wildfire in S.Korea, windstorms in the US affect the safety of reactors.
  • Meltdowns: A meltdown is an accident in which severe overheating of the nuclear reactor results in the melting of the reactor’s core. Ex: Incidents of Fukushima disaster in Japan.
  • Health risks: Nuclear power generation is fraught with ionizing radiation, an invisible poison, which is unsafe in all doses, however small.
  • Importing technology, problems:
    • India importing 6 VVER plants from Russia have multiple operational problems as seen in Kudunkulam.
    • 12 AP1000 design reactors importing from the USA, same were abandoned in California due to cost implications.
    • 6 EPR design reactors from France, they were unable to complete in their home country.
  • Local people protests: In Gujarat, locals turned against the Mithivirdhi nuclear power plant.
  • Disaster prone: In a densely populated country like India, and poor health care, India is not ready for the Chernobyl kind of disaster nor has funds to clean post-disaster.
  • Costly: Compared to this, solar energy is cheaper than can be generated, sold at 2.14 per unit.
  • Lack of proper law to keep them accountable. Indian liability law already largely protects them.

Given the liability and cost involved, the government should recheck its decision on nuclear reactors and develop a safe renewable energy generation to reach our INDC goals.



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